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our (blog) life in review

On our about us page, we describe ourselves as "radical hippy christians homesteading in the suburbs". That's the collection of buzzwords that we brainstormed back two-three years ago when we first decided we needed an about us page, and I think they're reasonably good ones. But at the turn of the year it occurs to me to check in and see how much we're actually representing them in our real life.

radical: I think what we're going for here is a combination of dictionary definitions number two and three. That is to say, extreme in how we live our own life and in the solutions we imagine for the world. So far, I think we're doing... ok. We're poor, thanks to some conscious decisions we made about where we want to focus our energy, but we still manage to be fairly generous to people and causes who need our help—and credit for that goes mostly to Leah, who is totally on top of the tithing. We share our veggies (and our cookies, which proved to be a little more popular); I've got big plans for the farm stand next year. We have only one car, which doesn't sound too amazing—but I guess it is in this day and age. I bike to work almost every day, and weather and children permitting we bike or walk to most destinations in town. We think a lot about how we can give Harvey and Zion a healthy blend of autonomy and security, trying not to fall into the trap of unthinking authoritarianism. We don't buy much.

But we could be doing much better. Stress keeps us from doing too many of the things we want to do—for example, now that it's cold we've been driving a lot more, just because it's so much easier than convincing the boys that they want to get bundled up in the stroller. The hard parts of parenting also keep us from reaching out more to people in our community: we have lots of great friends who we're lucky enough to spend tons of time with, but speaking for myself I feel like I need to do a better job reaching out to people and explaining our values. Lately I think I've either been ignoring the world, or mad at it.

hippy: I think we've got this one nailed. Just the fact that we stopped using any commercial bathing products gives us tons of hippy points—and, of course, that distinctive hippy aroma (what?! I'm talking about the rosemary and tea-tree oil in Leah's home-made deodorant!). No shampoo, no toothpaste, no kitchen or bath cleansers... generally we keep our distance from factory-produced chemicals with long names. We still do use commercial dish soap (albeit from Seventh Generation, a fake hippy company) and laundry detergent (Tide, gasp!), and wash the kids with good old Johnson and Johnson, so there's some progress to be made, but I think we're doing alright. Our food, on the other hand, is only mildly hippyish, and we haven't done very well at getting to thrift stores to clothe ourselves in the appropriate fashion. But I think the soap thing—plus, of course, Leah's dreads—have us in very good shape hippy-wise.

christian: Another good one, at least if we get credit for going to church every Sunday of the year, except when we're camping. Plus we both teach kids' church, and Leah prays for people, and we have two nights a week devoted to Christian fellowship, and... that's probably enough. I would like to pray more at home, especially with the kids, but Zion is a little too young and Harvey currently views prayer for the most part as a tool of the cruel bed-time routine, so there's still progress to be made on that front; but I'm not in any way concerned.

homesteading: I think it was some ladies looking for homesteading blog content that brought the wrath of the "toxic parenting" group down on our heads, and in addition to critiquing our child-rearing they also complained about the lack of information on the subject here. Which is probably fair. In our defense, almost everyone who talks about "homesteading" is not actually doing it in any meaningful sense—including us. But we're not actually looking for self-sufficiency; instead, we mean the term as a shorthand for making as many things as possible ourselves. To that end we've got soap; bread; beer; hats, mittens, and sweaters; clothes for the boys; and, you know, the whole home-made Christmas thing generally. Add in the chickens and the garden and I think we're doing fine. And just wait until we get bees!

And of course, we are totally, undeniably, living in the suburbs. As much as we sometimes wish it weren't so.

So all in all, not to bad. We're generally on target but with ample room for improvement, which strikes me as a pretty good place to be at the start of a new year.

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